This was Lam­b’s first seat­ed gig, so they tell us. Good going for the duo who have been in exis­tence since 1996. They did, how­ev­er, exhort us to get up on our feet for a dancey num­ber after which no one seemed much inclined to sit down again.

The duo released a new album this year, The Secret of Let­ting Go – which sees them out on the road again – hence a gig at Union Chapel in Isling­ton, a venue they have been lust­ing after play­ing for an age.

Lou Rhodes of Lamb

They may have been awed by its pres­ence but they man­aged to do the place jus­tice. Union Chapel is a fab­u­lous venue for those of us who like to get up close to the stage action (and don’t like talk­ers) but it can at times over­whelm the artists on stage, mak­ing them look lost and awk­ward. Lamb got the ele­ments just right – warm fil­a­ment lights on stands like torch­es and clever pur­ple back­light­ing illu­mi­nat­ing the high arch­es of the church; it all con­spired to cre­ate a strange effect as if they were play­ing at an out­door amphithe­atre. Then there were Lou Rhodes’ sculp­tur­al dress­es and head­dress­es which increased the sense of drama.

The set began with Phos­pho­rus, the atmos­pher­ic and stat­uesque open­er from the new album. Armaged­don Waits next up is very much Lamb ter­ri­to­ry – a dra­mat­ic num­ber, and with almost James Bond-style over­tones. We Fall in Love brought in some old­er mate­r­i­al – as the song gath­ered pace and hit the reverb and the drum­ming worked its per­cus­sive mag­ic it was dif­fi­cult for some of us to stay in our seats. Lou’s voice con­tin­ues to be mes­meris­ing, warm and sooth­ing yet capa­ble of bring­ing in that jagged and icy edge when need­ed. There is a clar­i­ty to her enun­ci­a­tion which meant the lyrics were crys­tal clear and the sound at Union Chapel did jus­tice to the musi­cians’ expan­sive sound. Aside from Lou, Andy Bark­er was ani­mat­ed and always smil­ing, mas­ter­mind­ing things from behind mis­sion con­trol. Jon Thorne stays low-key but deliv­ers the all-impor­tant bass lines with pre­ci­sion – there’s also the atmos­pher­ic trum­pet play­ing of Kevin Dav­ey on Armaged­don Waits, Deep Delir­i­um and oth­er tracks.

It was Bul­let­proof that we all rose to dance to, with that urgent clash of jazz and elec­tron­i­ca that the band were most revered for when they first erupt­ed onto the music scene. Played live it sounds soft­er than on the record­ed ver­sion. After it’s over we stayed stand­ing and Andy has to encour­age us to sit down again.

For an encore, the band treat­ed us to a few old­er num­bers. Lou returned in a white Gre­cian-style dress and plumed head­dress. The duo aren’t the sort of pre­cious types to deny a crowd their biggest num­ber (I can think of a few who do) so they played Gorec­ki and it sound­ed as always, shiv­er­ing­ly beau­ti­ful, a moment of still­ness and puri­ty that Lamb do so well. I came away from the Union Chapel utter­ly elat­ed and emo­tion­al from what was one of the best gigs I’ve seen this year. Please don’t miss see­ing Lamb live if you can.

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